Meet the Professionals – Chris Trantom, Consultant at Let’s Go

What’s your job title?

Consultant.

Our focus at Let’s Go is collaboration, helping people to get more out of working together. We’ve got a dead simple, smart way of thinking about how groups of humans work together to get things done – and what we need to pay attention to in order to get the best out of this as an activity. As the world and our problems become increasingly unpredictable and complex, effective collaboration is becoming – already is – a vital skill. We train people in our thinking, these are often leaders and organisations, from start ups to big global companies. Our work is underpinned by practical tools – from a Kickstarter-funded conversation card deck, to a team psychometric test developed with Dr Laura Weis from UCL

How would you describe your job?

At Let’s Go we’re a small team of four employees, so that means that my job is very varied – helping secure and deliver new and repeat business, planning and delivering training to our clients, building and refining the products and thinking we use in our work, developing our growth strategy for products, web and print design, updating our digital channels, making the tea, planning events, getting the printing done on time.

What is a typical day for you?

Every day is different, but they often start the same way. I get up when my son does, around 6.30/7 (he’s three), my wife and I help get him ready for the day and then I’ll head out – either to our office in south London, out to an appointment or to work from a café or workspace.

We’re in our second year of running a business, so there’s a lot of variety from day to day. One of the questions we ask a lot is ‘what needs attention right now?’. At my best, I’ll make space to think about this on my way in to work, and write down three things (max.) that I want to achieve on that day – it’s an important record of progress and satisfying to tick things off the list. I don’t always manage to do this, but it’s a habit I’ve found useful and very calming. With a broad, flexible role like this, it often feels like ‘all the things need to be done right now’, so prioritising well and focusing on a few tasks makes me more productive.

What skills/qualifications do you need to do your job?

That’s difficult to say – a background in consulting, psychology or design thinking is useful but not necessarily essential.

Key skills might be:

  • An ability to show up and present well, being confident and credible and able to communicate complex ideas clearly and simply
  • A high level of organisation and self-discipline – able to build a plan for you and others to follow
  • The ability to listen well and seek input from others when needed
  • A drive and determination to get things done, as well as reflecting and assessing how things are going in order to improve
  • Empathy, emotional intelligence and respect for others

What experience do you need?

Collaboration is a life’s work – there’s always more to learn. An interest and depth of study in human psychology is important, but so is the practical life experience of being part of different groups – from families to the workplace, sports teams to creative projects and everything in between – building up an understanding of what often goes wrong in groups, what’s needed for them to go well and what they demand of you personally is invaluable for our work. Although the last ten years have I have focussed around digital product delivery and strategic consulting, I learnt a huge amount through a wide range of professional experiences I had before this. Amongst many jobs I’ve had (some good, some bad!), I have been a radio producer, a project manager, a typist at an Indian newspaper, an event manager, a shop worker, a music magazine columnist and a tailor’s assistant. All of these experiences taught me something about the way people live, organise and work together.

What kind of person do you need to be to do your job?

Well you can’t collaborate on your own, so enjoying people and having the curiosity to explore the intricacies of relationships and behaviours is a must – personally I’m a right nosey parker so I love it

For the last four years I’ve worked in companies being built from the ground up, and that journey is as thrilling as it is challenging – there’s a degree of uncertainty and discomfort that you might not experience with a job in a larger organisation (you can have some scary moments wondering where the money is going to come from or what the next move is) this demands an amount of resilience and optimism to keep going.

Who is your creative inspiration and why?

I am impressed by people very easily to be honest, I find I flit from one inspiration to another. I think the work of (documentary maker) Adam Curtis is brilliant. He often draws together broad societal themes to ask ‘what are we missing? what’s really going on here? He’ll have his biases, and his commentaries on life are subjectively told stories, but I find they knock the air out of my chest and challenge me to think and connect. I find it comforting to believe (and my limited experience suggests it to be true) that most people are a bit extraordinary and a bit mundane at the same time – and that’s just as it should be. For example, I love Einstein for his incredible achievements but also for writing that ‘a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest’. How reassuring. I’m also a massive Prince fan – 2016 was a tough year for me.

What advice would you give a student looking to get work in your field?

Consulting just means advising. We take expert advice from people we trust and respect, so I think there’s two key threads to explore if you were looking to move into this field –

  1. What do you enjoy thinking about and studying? Go toward what you have energy for and see where it takes you, become a total obsessive. Dedicate time to finding and attending free events about things you’re interested in – you’ll meet people, some great, some dull, you’ll learn something and more often than not there will be free food and free beer. Everybody wins. If you’re interested in social science and psychology, there is a wealth of free information to be found online – soak it up, there is knowledge everywhere.
  2. Very often consulting work is bought through relationships or reputation, so try to make the most of every opportunity to build new connections and relationships – a broad network will unlock unexpected opportunities for you.

Finally – just be nice and blag it. It’s a wonderful day when someone first lets you in to the secret that everyone –everyone- is just winging it.

 

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